Safari so goodie

Kids birthday cake at partyThe trouble with being freelance is that you find yourself not only with an uncertain income, but as someone pointed out to me years ago, you trick yourself into spending that income three times – once when you get the job, once when you invoice for it, and again when the money finally arrives. It’s the same when I manage to save money – so far I rewarded myself for cutting my storage bill in half by spending it at least three times over this month, most spectacularly and enjoyably by hiring a truck load of animals for Katy’s safari-themed birthday party.

I’m fine with organising parties – I enjoy the invites, the shopping and doing the food – it’s just the stress of wondering who will turn up and how to entertain them when they do that I can’t stand.

So stumbling across Safari Pete with his mobile menagerie was the perfect solution. All I had to do was hire the community centre, rustle up a few animal-shaped snacks and keep everyone contained and entertained for an hour, then Safari Pete and his medium-sized crocodile and baby meerkats would take over.

So far so marvellous – until 9am on Sunday morning – the day of the party. I was up to my elbows in lime green butter icing trying to construct a crocodile out of cup cakes when the phone rang. It was Safari Pete’s handler. “Good news/bad news,” he said. “Safari Pete has been rushed to hospital with suspected appendicitis.” What was the good news – that he was sending the medium-sized crocodile and Lady Gaga the tarantula up from Essex by train and hoped I could cope?

Never fear, said Charles, his manager, “I shall be taking the show.” Hurrah! Safari Charlie to the rescue. What could possibly go wrong?

I decided not to share the news of Safari Pete’s indisposition with Katy – there’s only so much drama a mum can take on party day.

I kept myself busy – tracking down toy tigers for the cake, blowing up (and bursting) balloons, while Liz rustled up a lion out of carrot sticks, Ritz crackers and a pot of hummus, “Just in case” she said. By 4.30pm – an hour before show time – the hall was buzzing with ten-year-old girls, wall to wall Rihanna and a terrifyingly high level of expectation. Suddenly the door to the community centre burst open and in rushed a pint-sized Indiana Jones brandishing a smile as wide as the Zambezi and a suspiciously crocodile-shaped tea chest. “I’m here!” he cried. “Charlie?” I called. “No, Pete! The hospital’s given me the all clear! Now where did I put Lady Gaga – don’t say she’s escaped again.”

My hero! And just in the nick of time. I couldn’t have been more thrilled to see Harrison Ford himself.

Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn

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